Iconic Radio Station Under Threat

Concord's local radio station, KVHS 90.5FM (The Edge) is under threat of closure by the Mount Diablo Unified School District. This radio station is part of local history, having been established in 1964 by Clayton Valley High vice principal Bob Daugherty. The (privatized) school district administration claims the station has no educational value, and is too expensive to maintain, but local listeners want to keep their station - which important to the community.

90.5FM is the radio station for a regional occupational program radio course for high school students. The station's license is owned by the Mount Diablo Unfied School District. The station also has adult volunteers, some affiliated and others non-affiliated with the MDUSD. Just this year, the station added a programing block called the Beat of Diablo, which profiles local musicians. For many Concord residents, this station is a part of local culture. Concord is the largest city in Contra Costa County, and KVHS 90.5FM is Concord's local station. The station is proudly "the voice of the valley".

In 2012, a dispute developed over the radio station - a dispute which has continued for a decade. Clayton Valley High School, which runs the radio programing, became a charter school (a tuition free charter school) ten years ago. Almost immediately, the Contra Costa County Office of Education responded by threatening to cut the radio course. The Office of Education claimed the radio course didn't have enough student interest. CVHS responded by saying the course still had plenty of teacher support and enough students enrolled in the program to continue running the station. The MDUSD planned to take the station away from Clayton Valley High School. They were either going to sell the broadcast license, or move the station to another campus. MDUSD then changed tact and offered CVHS an extension on operating the station. This extension was to end in the 2014/2015 school year, but was continued up to now.

KQED, the Bay Area's NPR affiliate, expressed interest in buying the station license in 2012. KQED said their purchase offer would remain on the table for whenever the district was ready to sell. KQED-FM's main station is 88.5FM, but can also be heard on 88.1FM and 88.3FM, depending on where one listens. KQED-FM can already be heard all over the region, plus it has a large web-radio listener base, so it is not clear why they need to have 90.5FM as well. It is not known if KQED still plans on buying the license or if another buyer has expressed interest. The license is non-commerical, and as such must be sold to a non-profit entity.

The MDUSD has released the agenda for their next meeting on Wednesday August 24th. They will vote on whether or not the radio station will be shut down, and if the broadcast license will be sold. MDUSD staff (who wrote a report for the meeting) claim the station "no longer serves its intended educational purpose". Staff recommends selling the license. Running a station involves STEM, communications, and music appreciation. For district staff to say there is no educational purpose to the station is ridiculous. The station can lead to careers in broadcast, electronics, communications, or music-industry related fields. Some students need the type of engagement this program offers. Different people learn in different ways.

The same staff report says the station is too costly. Has the MDUSD tried looking for government grants, or grants from non-profit organizations? Has it tried fundraising to keep the station financially secure? Has it considered working with community partners, or Diablo Valley Colllege, or CSU East Bay to keep the station going? The staff report projects the monetary value of selling the license to be $500,000. In the grand scheme of things, this money wouldn't last the school district very long.

Concordians, teen and adult listeners, want their station. The music the station plays is not the type of programing heard on the corporate stations. They promote alternative and indie music, including local artists. This is Concord's station.

The MDUSD and Clayton Valley High School need to work out whatever tiff exists between them. If some mutual agreement honestly cannot be achieved, then the station can always be moved. The actual transmitter is not at Clayton Valley High School. MDUSD needs to get creative in securing a budget for the station. This station does not need to close, and it should not be closed. It has educational, and cultural value that outweighs the monetary value of the broadcast license.

Web links:

MDUSD 8/24 agenda item: https://tinyurl.com/2p9bz5a6

KVHS: https://kvhs.com/

Save KVHS: https://www.facebook.com/groups/372793539418233

KVHS at World Radio History: https://tinyurl.com/57v5pzsf

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